Family. Friendship. Generosity. The great American pastime. Interracial and interfaith friendships. All of these topics are woven together artfully by Sharon Robinson in a new book, Jackie’s Gift. This is a true story about Sharon Robinson’s father, the great baseball player Jackie Robinson, and her family’s first Christmas in Brooklyn, NY.
The Satlows are a Jewish family who live a couple doors down from Jackie Robinson’s family in Flatbush Section of Brooklyn. They welcomed the Robinsons to the neighborhood when no one else would due to racial tensions. Steve Satlow, the Satlows’ son, is a big Brooklyn Dodgers Fan, who is thrilled that Jackie Robinson is his new neighbor. After a little time passes, Steve gets to meet the great Jackie Robinson and a friendship develops.
Steve finds himself at the Robinsons’ helping to trim the Christmas tree. When Jackie asks Steve if he and his family have decorated their Christmas Tree yet, Steve lets out a heavy sigh and says, “We don’t have one.” Jackie Robinson assumes that the Satlows cannot afford a tree and purchases one for them. Little does he know that they don’t have a Christmas tree at home because they are Jewish. Hence, the Satlows have to figure out how to deal with the fact that they have a tree, purchased by Jackie Robinson, in their house, when they celebrate Chanukah, not Christmas!
The dialogue in Jackie’s Gift moves this compelling story forward. Since it captures the emotions of the Robinsons and the Satlows perfectly it can be shared with a student who needs assistance with writing meaningful dialogue (Think about all of those “What I did on my winter vacation stories your kids might be writing when they return in January!). Here are two excerpts from the text for you to preview.
How’s that for showing, not telling through the use of dialogue?
Finally, since I’m a sucker for well-written author’s notes, I have to mention the one in Jackie’s Gift since explains the whole truth behind this true story. It can serve as an excellent mentor for any student who is trying to write his/her own author’s note at the end of a piece of writing. Here it is:
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.